Barbara Lee, a left-leaning Democrat from California, has indicated interest in replacing former Representative Joe Crowley, eliminated in a primary earlier this week, as party conference chair, The Washington Post reported on Thursday:
“I was not seriously considering this until Tuesday night,” Lee said. “If this were not an open seat, I’d be making a different calculation. But things move fast around here, and I didn’t want to wait until November to start looking at this.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Democratic Socialist who defeated Crowley on Tuesday, had previously floated Lee’s name as a potential Crowley replacement. Lee is famous nationally for being the only member of Congress to vote against 2001’s Authorization of Military Force. As Politico reported in 2017, Lee has remained steadfast in her opposition to America’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and introduces a yearly resolution to repeal the AUMF. Politico described her 2001 speech as follows:
On the House floor, she implored her colleagues, “We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.” She compared the 2001 AUMF, written in vague terms with no end date or geographic limitations, to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that paved the way for Lyndon Johnson’s escalation in Vietnam. “There must be some of us who say: Let’s step back for a moment and think through the implications of our actions today,” she pleaded. “I do not want to see this spiral out of control.”
In hindsight, Lee looks prescient. Neither major party has really reckoned with the moral wreckage of Iraq and Afghanistan, yet this is a responsibility Democrats must accept if they are to distinguish themselves from the GOP, now led by a president who enjoys rattling sabers on Twitter. Lee has seniority, distinctive politics, and might well give the party the energy boost it’s been needing since 2016.